Belfast Telegraph

Police bid to have off-licences closed for Twelfth parade

By Alan Erwin

Police have ended a legal bid to have five off licences ordered to shut during the Twelfth of July parade in Belfast.

The application was withdrawn after some of the retailers agreed to close for limited hours around next week's annual Orange Order demonstration.

Lawyers representing the PSNI had gone before Belfast Magistrates' Court seeking closure orders against identified traders.

The move was based on concerns that selling alcohol in areas close to the parade route could heighten the risk of public disorder.

Five shops in the south of the city were identified: Wineflair at Tates Avenue; Tesco on the Dublin Road; Winemark at Bradbury Place; and Russell's Food and Drink outlets on Sandy Row and Botanic Avenue.

But the businesses instructed counsel to defend the application, brought under the 1996 Northern Ireland Licencing Order.

They were set to argue that the legislation would require the closure of all premises selling alcohol within a defined area.

A further defence involved claims the onus was on police to demonstrate that the stores they wanted to close are linked to any disorder.

But following out-of-court negotiations, counsel for the PSNI confirmed a resolution had been reached.

Withdrawing the application, she told District Judge Ken Nixon: "We have come to an agreement with the parties voluntarily.

"I'm happy to say that no further order is needed."

It is understood that the Tesco, Wineflair and Winemark branches have all agreed to close for limited periods on the Twelfth.

However, Russell's Food and Drink is to remain open as normal throughout the day.

Stewart Beattie QC, representing one of the off licences, told the court lessons should be learnt for the future.

"This is not any way to look at a matter like this," he said.

"I would encourage everybody involved in this matter that the time to talk ought to be within this calendar year and not to leave it to the eleventh hour again.

"These are responsible businesses and responsible people."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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